That "lesbian" kiss

T.A. Barnhart

That "lesbian" kiss

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta & Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell

By now, you have probably seen the picture of the two women sailors kissing on the ship’s return to port in Virginia. The media has been touting “first lesbian kiss” with vigor; the titillation of “forbidden love” is probably every exciting to a lot of viewers.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that both officers are pretty cute.

But here’s the part of the story that is being reported inaccurately: that the couple was “selected” for the first kiss. This implies an explicit decision was made to have Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta and her fiancée, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, be the first to kiss. This is exactly what did not happen.

After a year at sea, sailors are anxious to be back with their loved ones. So at some point, a tradition began: a lottery for the honor of being the first sailor off the ship to kiss his wife. That became “or her husband” quite a few years ago. And now that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been sent to Davy Jones’ Locker, it’s “whoever the hell it is you love”. Gaeta bought 50 $1-tickets, and because one of those tickets was the winner, she and Snell won the honor.

They didn’t get selected; they got lucky.

And that’s the awesome part: Gaeta got lucky because she was, at last, treated like the rest of the crew. Imagine: all the other cruises and, returning home, not being able to participate in the lottery. Having to wait until she was home, with the curtains drawn, and possibly hiding in a back room, before being able to kiss her partner after nearly a year at sea. That had to hurt like hell. But this time, she got to be ordinary. One of the crew. The tickets were being sold, and at last — at long, freaking last — she got to say, “I’ll take one”.

And not start making plans for a court-martial.

This is the gay agenda at its most essential: the legal right to be ordinary. No one on that ship has to be happy that Gaeta and Snell are in love and living together. (Although it appears her crewmates are more than cool about it: Gaeta suspects her division bought tickets on her behalf.) No one is saying the religious fundamentalists on the ship have to think anything other than “them gals is going to hell”. Full civil rights for all GLBTQ Americans does not mean homophobes have to change their beliefs, attitudes or opinions. Full civil rights means bigoted beliefs, attitudes and opinions no longer have any legal standing.

Just like bigotry is no longer allowed to prevent the black sailor with a white partner from entering the lottery to win the first kiss. It is exactly the same thing.

So as you see that picture reposted on the interwebs, remember: those women were not selected for any privilege. They were not given any preferences. They won a lottery that Marissa Gaeta entered just as every straight crew member has been able to enter for years. She got to be a full member of the crew at last. And given that she could die in the fulfillment of her duties, it is only right that she have the chance to be first off the ship to say hello to her partner with an open kiss.

Now, let’s allow her to return from a cruise and greet her wife .

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    Funny, almost every story I saw on it detailed the raffle. Of course, I don't watch Fox, so I don't know how they spun it.

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    I shall be more impressed with the weakening of bigotry in the Navy and among American news editors when two male sailors feel comfortable enough to enter the lottery and win First Kiss rights, and the photo is splashed all over the media.

    There has long been, and still is, a large gap in the level of bigotry faced by lesbians and gay men.

    Tim, Hollywood District

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    How odd that what comes to mind is, "You must remember this a kiss is still a kiss a smile is still a smile . . . the fundamental things apply as time goes by." Probably didn't get the words exactly but fundamental things has certainlly changed since the right wing latched on to their big box of crayons. The morons.

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    This notable iconic moment will soon be commonplace and not notable.

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    Funny. When I saw the photograph in the national press I didn't really care who was kissing who. Instead I was frustrated at the media's apparent effort to draw an analogy between the famous anonymous couple kissing in Times Square at the end of WWII and this couple kissing at the end of the Iraq war. WWII was a defensive war fought to protect tens of millions of civilians from being slaughtered and/or enslaved by Hitler and the Japanese war machine. Iraq was a mindless killing spree initiated by egomaniac US politicians against a small non-Christian country that happened to be led by a petty dictator. Efforts to compare the two are sickening to me. But I support the right of people to kiss, regardless of sex, creed, etc. etc. etc.

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    I'm waiting for the day when no one bothers to take a picture. Around 10% of people are left-handed, but they let us get married, kiss our significant others, and so forth. In fact no one really notices our left-handedness at all.

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      Lefthanders should NEVER be allowed to dine to the right of righthanders... it's just wrong!

      (Blessed are the Southpaws, for they shalt pitch...)

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    we celebrate firsts all the time. this is one of them. and it's a very good first that made a lot of people very happy. now we move forward from here.

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    Todd, thanks for this column. This line is priceless:

    "This is the gay agenda at its most essential: the legal right to be ordinary."

    That about sums it up!!

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